A recent study suggests that using cannabis may lead to an alteration in the sperm’s gene for autism. The journal Epigenetics has published this study. And it states that cannabis can bring about changes in the DLGAP2 gene in men’s sperm.
The results of the study have shown that changes in this gene take place by a process known as DNA methylation. And it has the potential to pass on to the next generation.
Using cannabis can bring changes in the methylation of DLGAP2 gene
Nowadays, many countries have legalized the use of recreational and medical cannabis. But the use of cannabis in parents may affect the nervous system of the offspring and cause conditions like autism. The fathers who use cannabis may be using them for two.
This study includes 24 men and 15 rats. And it highlights the ability of marijuana to affect the next generation. The research team has detected a significant hypomethylation at the DLGAP2 gene in the sperm of men who have used cannabis compared to the non-users.
The finding was similar in the case of mice exposed to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The rats born to fathers subjected to THC also had this hypomethylated state in their forebrain. These results may provide little evidence that cannabis can lead to an alteration in the sperm’s gene for autism.
The research team has stated that these results do not define an obvious relation between the use of cannabis and autism. But still, this possible link stresses the need for further study. The team has used quantitative bisulfite pyrosequencing to validate the differential methylation in the DLGAP2 gene for the nine CpG sites in intron seven.
The DNA methylation at the DLGAP2 gene was present in the sperms of male rats exposed to THC. Moreover, the accumbens nucleus of their offspring has also shown the presence of methylation.
DNA methylation can cause a reduction in the expression of DLGAP2
In an earlier study, the research team found many changes in the gene of men’s sperm who smoked marijuana. On the contrary, this recent study has focused on specific genes, especially DLGAP2.
DLGAP2 means Discs-Large Associated Protein 2. DLGAP2 is a gene implicated in autism. And it is involved in neural signaling and the organization of synapse. Besides its link with autism, this gene is also related to PTSD and schizophrenia.
Other discoveries from this study involve a sex-based difference in the link between DNA methylation and gene activity in human brain tissues. In both sexes, there was a decrease in gene activity with an increase in DNA methylation.
But this link was strongest in females, and less maintained in males. At present, the exact reason for this difference is unknown. This variance in both sexes was significant, as the ratio of boys to girls with autism is 4:1.
The association between methylation and the expression of gene changes if the methylation change is passed along to offspring. But the fact that DLGAP2 gene in sperm is functionally important in the brain is clear, in any event. This is the first study that has shown the relation between cannabis use in men and autism in offspring.
It indicates that use the cannabis may lead to an alteration in the sperm’s gene for autism. But due to the small sample size (24 men), this study hasn’t accounted for the confounding factors. And still, these factors like sleep, diet, and physical activity may affect the study results.
Study Shows No Significant Mental Effects In Elderly Patients Using Medicinal Cannabis For Chronic Pains
The elderly, often subjected to various medical conditions, need therapies and treatments as much as any other age group. Yet unfortunately, some point out that the field sometimes doesn’t get as much attention as younger groups. That may explain why pediatric doctors greatly outnumber geriatric specialists. And then, there does exist the tendency for the elderly to be more likely to be dismissed, compared to younger patients. Regardless, one of the most common aliments in the elderly is that of chronic pain in different parts of their aged bodies. Luckily, medicinal cannabis may hold the solution for them, as numerous experts find its properties useful for old people.
A recent study from Israel set out to ascertain whether or not weed would harmfully affect the cognitions of a sample of aged individuals. The participants included both middle-aged individuals and the elderly ones, as both seemed likely to have chronic pains. Furthermore, because the aim was to find effects on cognition, both types had fully-developed brains. What the scientists found may further the needle for the campaign to normalize medicinal cannabis.
The study set up strict controls and parameters to keep it as accurate as possible
The problem that arises with any diverse sample is the presence of individual differences. If not adjusted for, these can lead to a skewed data set and make the results questionable. In this case, the researchers strove to ensure all participants were as similar as possible. They were all above the age of 50, and no significant history with alcohol abuse or hard drugs. Some of the participants were on medicinal weed licenses, meaning they actively used it regularly. Others used it very sporadically. However, all abstained from cannabis use at least 3 hours prior. They also had similar education levels and all medically recognized as mentally sound.
The study included exactly 63 licensed individuals with the remaining 62 unlicensed. The male to female ratio was also about half and half, so sex didn’t affect the results. This almost even split served to better reproduce a normal distribution with acceptable standard deviations. Furthermore, they used a reliable software called ‘CogState’, which comprises of computerized cognitive exams. These exams covered everything required, from memory to attention spans.
The results indicated that regular cannabis use to treat chronic pains left no significant impact on cognition in the elderly
By all standards of scientific research methodology, the study mainly came out as a success. The results showed the initial hypothesis proved correct, and cannabis caused no major mental changes. In practically all participants, cognition was on par with normal levels and the frequent cannabis users did not vary much from rare users. Hence, the paper claimed that treating chronic pains with CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) would leave no lasting mental effects.
However, one interesting and alarming finding the study showed was an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease from cannabis. In addition, regular users also showed elevated frequencies of depression. The former of these may occur due to smoking cannabis rather than eating it. However, it does corroborate what a recent American Heart Association (AHA) paper claims.
While the study did have some limitations, it still shows important findings for those on the fence about medicinal weed
No truly scientific study can claim to have zero room for improvement. While they accounted for most extraneous factors, the biggest factor was the cross-sectional aspect. This means that due to broad generalizations about samples, the study cannot definitively establish cause and effect. Also, they didn’t account for previous medicinal histories.
However, the study still puts to rest many fears about brain damage from weed. For more on medicinal cannabis, stay tuned!
The Unsettled Science On The Effect of Cannabis On COVID-19
Cannabis certainly made its mark upon the medical world within the past few decades. Historically shunned, and dismissed as a cheap drug, weed now bears its own therapeutic prowess. Researchers, healthcare experts and experienced users alike all testify to its claimed health benefits and properties. Even when it comes to the terrible COVID-19 pandemic, cannabis gets talked about and undergoes consideration fairly frequently.
However, scientists admit the matter of just how useful cannabis is for use in COVID-19 patients stumps them. Unlike the concept of gravity or climate change, there exists no consensus. Some argue the drug holds several positive health effects, while others that it may worsen symptoms. So, all in all, cannabis still comprises of widely-polarizing evidence that only serves to increase mistrust in it.
Recent studies highlight marked benefits to cannabis when used to treat COVID-19
One of the most exciting, and high-profile, studies that showcase cannabis’s therapeutic potential is this Israeli one. Eybna and CannaSoul, two collaborating cannabis companies, recently launched a joint study into cannabis terpenes and coronavirus. Terpenes, small molecules of organic nature naturally present in the cannabis plant, create the distinct scent of weed. This study found that terpenes proved an effective treatment for COVID-19 patients with ‘cytokine storm’.
Cytokine storm refers to a serious feared complication seen in some younger patients infected with COVID-19. Normally, the body releases cytokines as mediators of immune response. Thus, moderate levels of cytokines play a vital role in immunity. However, in some patients the immune system flares up so severely that excess cytokines release into the blood. This phenomenon leads to inflammation, fever, gastrointestinal disturbances, respiratory issues and even death. Hence, the study’s findings proved game-changing, and even seemed more effective than dexamethasone.
However, evidence also shows cannabis intake may severely hinder essential immune responses
Despite the previous study, scientists also investigate the side-effects of cannabis use and links to COVID-19. They found recently that cannabis may hinder immune responses even in uninfected patients. This is best explained by the way weed works on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates sleep, immunity and other functions. Because combating infections requires an initial surge in immune response, cannabis users may make themselves more open to coronavirus infections.
Furthermore, a recent study that called into question cannabis’s negative effects in immunotherapy patients. To treat certain cancers, immunotherapy seeks to destroy cancerous cells. And ideally, the body’s innate immune cells should take as little damage as possible. Unfortunately, given marijuana’s tendency to reduce immunity, users on immunotherapy get weakened results. Hence, researchers now suggest users with suspected COVID-19 symptoms hold off on the pot.
Despite mixed results with treating COVID-19, medicinal cannabis still holds a wide array of therapeutic benefits
Let’s face it, cannabis still doesn’t get the attention and respect it deserves. In the medical field, however, it gets harder to ignore weed’s influence and popularity. Dentists and surgeons now use it for post-operation recoveries due to its painkilling effects. Its ability to smooth out brain waves makes it ideal for juvenile seizure patients. And lastly, what better drug to ease anxiety and depression patients?
So therefore, it seems a minor side effect of COVID-19 may leave users unsafe. As experts recommend, abstaining just until the COVID-19 vaccine comes out might prove safe. In the meantime, let’s hope more and more healthcare providers turn to prescribing cannabis where appropriate.
Patients Prescribed Cannabis In Georgia, USA, Can’t Legally Obtain It
The United States of America often astounds the rest of the world with just how ludicrous its laws seem. Take the example of recreational cannabis, which remains federally illegal since decades. However, a few select states, such as California, Colorado and Georgia, allow small quantities of legally purchased cannabis. Everywhere else, possession of cannabis remains a misdemeanor offense, and other disproportionately severe punitive measures.
In Georgia, in particular, the case of medicinal marijuana recently emerged as troubling. For many patients, medicinal weed simply is a lifesaver and experts agree that it packs unique therapeutic effects. However, in the state of Georgia in particular, it seems like a cruel joke that obtaining said weed becomes near impossible. And this is despite the fact that it’s been legal to possess since 2015.
Despite the usage of medicinal cannabis being legal in the state of Georgia, purchase or sale remains illegal
As far as ridiculous laws go, this one stands out as extremely cruel. With doctors able to prescribe doses of cannabis to ailing patients, the lack of any places to legally obtain it seems absurd. And no, buying cannabis from a shady back alley dealer is not a safe idea. Not just because of the chance of getting caught but because there’s no guarantee the product is what you pay for. Only a legal and regulated avenue available would help.
In 2019, at the behest of several concerned citizens, official government action started. The state governor set up the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission in 2019 to discuss this terrible issue. And yet, the problem still stands. This is because the panel only convened once, before the COVID-19 pandemic put the matter on hold indefinitely. Thus, millions of patients needing their drug have no one else to ask for help from.
For many patients with a variety of ailments, medicinal marijuana works wonders for their health
Medical science generally holds several consensuses on the health effects of different substances. No respectable doctor will ever claim that arsenic is good for your health. And when it comes to cannabis, the leading consensus after extensive studies and research holds opinions that cannabis may hold several cures. Weed, which consists primarily of CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), exerts effects on the body’s physiology. This leads to improvements in breathing, blood circulation, mood, and pain relief.
Various types of disorders that lead to seizures, such as West Syndrome, in all age groups exist. Fortunately, cannabis is also a known therapeutic agent for reducing the intensity of seizures. In many young individuals, such as a recent UK toddler, it offers marked improvements to health. Furthermore, cannabis offers health benefits to patients with PTSD, anxiety, extreme pain and even in certain cancers. However, there also exists evidence that in the smoked form, it can lead to cardiovascular issues in the long term. Hence, edibles or inhalables suit most users better, and offer better efficacy of the weed.
The United States sorely needs to fix its haphazard and primitive legislation regarding both recreational and medicinal cannabis use
Several conservative states, like Texas, where the most anti-cannabis attitudes prevail, reflect that in their legislation. From introducing ridiculous hemp regulation laws, to launching an entire War On Drugs, they’ve done it all. None of that changes the fact that cannabis stays, and will always do so.
The time comes now that lawmakers, urged by the people, reexamine the science. And then, hopefully change laws for the better. That remains to be seen, however.
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